The Thompson-Nicola Regional District held its first board of directors regular meeting of the new year on Jan. 14 at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops and was broadcast live on their Facebook page.
The Board was given presentations by local members of the legislative assembly, including Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar, as well as a federal update from MP Cathy McLeod.
Vavenby community water system
The board voted in favour of to authorize the transfer of land from Peak Vavenby Properties Ltd., owned by B.C. entrepreneur Brian Fehr, to the TNRD to use as a location for a possible water treatment facility.
The TNRD is to cover associated survey, subdivision, legal and land title costs as part of the donation agreement, and will be covered using funds under the district’s water utility budget, according to a board report.
Shortly after Fehr purchased the Canfor sawmill property, TNRD staff reached out to see if he would be willing to donate a small section of land for a future water treatment and filtration facility for the community.
Fehr agreed, and he and CEO of Peak Renewables Brian Baarda visited the old sawmill site in October 2020 to announce the donation of 1.5 acres of land to the community of Vavenby.
Once the land transaction is completed, TNRD staff will look into performing an “engineering pre-design study,” which will provide information such as cost and scope of the project in order to seek out funding through appropriate grant programs.
Community fire hall improvements
The board also voted in favour of supporting grant applications for both the Blackpool and Vavenby volunteer fire departments. The funding through the Canada-British Columbia Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream Grant, if successful, would be used to build additions to both halls.
Both fire halls were built in the ’70s and require bay upgrades to support the addition of wildfire equipment, such as a bush truck and structural protection trailer, according to a board report.
If approved, the grants would fund 100 per cent of the eligible costs for the expansions.
The need for the hall expansions have been known for some time as they were first recommended about 16 years ago and were highlighted in the TNRD’s volunteer fire department review in 2017.
The total project costs for the renovations are about $445,000 for Vavenby fire and roughly $365,000 for the Blackpool hall. The board report notes that while eligible costs will be completely funded by the grant, “cost overruns,” as well as other ineligible expenses will be the responsibility of the TNRD, which could be covered from reserve funding, operating budget or through taxation.
“Having the proper equipment to initially fight fires in the wildland urban interface is key for success to limit the amount of devastation in these small, rural communities,” the report said.
In Vavenby, Chief Philip Weber told the Timesthe fund will be used replace the original log construction of the hall as the newer trucks are much larger and don’t fit well in the smaller space of the Vavenby fire hall.
Likewise, Mike Savage, chief of Blackpool Fire Department, said the funds will support an additional bay on the south side of the building to accommodate the additional bushfire equipment.
More equipment can require more hands and both the Vavenby and Blackpool departments are currently recruiting.
“There’s lots of people out there that live in the Blackpool area that have expressed an interest but haven’t stopped by and we encourage them to come by and check out the hall and meet the crew and see if they can do their part to assist the community and preparing (for) and responding to emergencies,” said Savage.